The NHS budget has doubled in the past five years, from £45bn to £90bn, the fastest growth in its history. While some NHS workers have enjoyed a pay bonanza, it has not been spread evenly. The biggest rises have gone to doctors, with senior GPs who run their own practices enjoying rises of 58 per cent on average in the three years from 2003 – an average income of £113,614.
The NHS bosses have been accused of “double standards” for getting huge pay hikes while frontline staff took an effective cut.
According to an analysis of health service accounts the chief executive, David Nicholson, accepted a rise of between 26% and 32% last year – raking in a maximum of £258,000 including perks - when nurses got barely 1.9% rise, as Nicholson ‘hypocritically’ set out plans to “squeeze the pay bill in the NHS”. The director-general of the NHS Workforce, Clare Chapman, took home between 14% and 20% extra - up to £245,000.
Stephen O’Brien, the shadow Health minister, said: “New Labour has presided over a culture of soaring salaries for top civil servants as frontline staff has been squeezed. There seems to be one rule for hard-working nurses, and quite another for top bureaucrats at the Department of Health.”
A Department of Health clarification of the salary row said Nicholson, Chapman and other top brass received basic rises of between 2% and 3.5%, plus performance-related bonuses.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Unison, which represents 400,000 nurses, porters and NHS administrative staff, said: “It’s grossly unjust that the lowest paid in the NHS have to bear the brunt of a public sector pay policy. It’s a shabby way to treat nurses, paramedics, porters, cleaners and other workers.”